Hot Air: Thursday Thoughts

Indiana Wildlife

h/t to The Loved One for digging this up:

The elephants at Wilstem Ranch.

These are three female elephants who’ll be living at the Wilstem Ranch, hard by French Lick and West Baden Springs, through November 4th.

Frankly I had no idea this place existed. I assume veteran Hoosiers know all about it. If not, it’s a thousand-acre spread that some southern Indiana guy developed as a getaway for the ultra-rich starting in 1915. This fellow, Ed Ballard, was a hotelier (he owned a big piece of the West Baden Springs H.) and a horseman. Over the years he built up the ranch as an attraction for the super-gentry and hosted the likes of Franklin Roosevelt, Al Capone, and heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis, which is about as American a selection of notables as you can get. The ranch went through a succession of owners over the decades and it was eventually bought by a fellow named Jerry Fuhs who, in 1988, sunk a chunk of dough into rehabbing the spread and restoring all the remaining original structures on it.

Now, apparently, the Wilstem operation is home to the aforementioned pachyderms as well as a couple of giraffes, some kangaroos, goats, snakes, an iguana, and a few other scampering critters. There’s plenty going on all around this ranch so I figure TLO and I will be popping down there soonly.

Honestly, this is just another example of how native-Chicagoans — like me — have zero idea of what Indiana has to offer. That is, besides eminently forgettable vice presidents, shuttered steel mills, and a rich history of KKK activity.

Don’t Worry: Pence, Too, Will Be A Trivia Answer Soon Enough.

Weed & Olive Oil


Yep, it’s Big Talk Thursday once again. My guest this afternoon will be scientist and researcher Heather Bradshaw who, believe it or not, ranks lipids as one of her main passions in life. Lipids are fats and they’re found in everything from marijuana to olive oil, a couple of items Heather and her lab-mates in Indiana University’s Psychological & Brain Sciences Dept. study.

She’ll talk about how pot may or may not be the next miracle drug and how olive oil, honest-to-gosh, can be instrumental in warding off osteoporosis.

Tune in to WFHB, 91.3 FM, today at 5:30pm. And, as always, if you miss the show, I ‘ll have the podcast link here tomorrow morning.

Bad Medicine

Speaking of medicine, did you catch this one? The Milwaukee Journal along with the website MedPage Today, an industry resource for medical professionals, last month concluded a year-long study into no-goodnik doctors. The investigators found that bad-guy medicos can, almost easily, elude licensing and regulatory repercussions despite killing patients, ripping them off, misdiagnosing them, and otherwise acting like Li’l Duce with a correspondence-course medical school degree.

These villainous practitioners get around authorities by copping licenses in multiple states so that, when they get nailed in one, they simply switch their bases of ops. to another.

One of the most egregious violators, acc’d’g to the report, is a vile MD named Jay Riseman. He has been charged and/or disciplined for, among other violations:

  • Leaving a catheter in a patient despite it causing a staph infection in her
  • Misdiagnosing her staph infection (she died)
  • Inadvertently severed a patient’s bile duct
  • Fraudulently represented himself as a pediatrician
  • Performed unnecessary surgeries in pediatric patients
  • Repeatedly prescribed laxative enema overdosages for children (at least one died)

Riseman was placed on probation by the Illinois licensing board for doctors but simply moved to another locale in the state to continue practicing. Then he hopped state lines to practice in Missouri. Later, the state of Colorado denied him a medical license. Somehow he obtained a license to practice in Kansas. And — this is icing on a foul cake — in 2017 he was named Distinguished Physician of the Year by the Missouri Hospice and Palliative Care Association.

I rail regularly in these precincts against phonus-balonus alternative, New Age-y, magical mystical “medical” fraudsters and snake oil salesmen. That doesn’t mean all is sweet and light within the conventional, for-profit, western medicine world.

The sick are at the mercy of malicious doctors, no matter what brand of medicine they practice. I consider them all worse than criminal. Just the way I consider crooked, corrupt cops worse than your ordinary, garden-variety reprobate.

Jailhouse Schlock

A-a-a-and, speaking of criminals. A lot of them, well.., aren’t. Bestselling author and attorney John Grisham spouted off in the Los Angeles Times earlier this week about wrongful convictions. Grisham lays out eight reasons why the innocent rot behind bars:

  • Bad cops
  • Bad prosecutors
  • False confessions
  • Faulty eyewitness testimony
  • Jailhouse snitches looking to make a deal
  • Bad defense attorneys
  • Bad judges
  • Junk science


Now there’s a murderer’s row if I’ve ever seen one.

I seem to recall, when I was a kid, hearing the old saw, “It’s better for ten criminals to go free than for one innocent man to be imprisoned.” It was the kind of sentiment that made me, an impressionable young brat, think this holy land was something special. We were fair. We honored truth and justice.

At least we said we did. Even an unrealized myth is better than nothing — it indicates what we aspire to be.

That old line beats our rhetoric today. In fact, contemporary conventional wisdom holds quite the contrary view. Today, you’re more likely to hear someone bark that it’s better to slam ten innocent guys away rather than let a criminal walk free.

In case you haven’t caught on yet, I’m not infatuated with today.


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